Dinner at Kesuma, Yogyakarta


java table.via

On our first night in Yogyakarta (Jogja), while we were plenty tired from the trip and the afteroon scouting Malioboro Street, we decided to go out for dinner. I had found a recommendation for Kesuma and so we called a taxi and headed of, not sure where it was located.

It was dark, and the taxi ride took many turns, but we finally made it about 45 minutes later. It’s not that it was so far, but the traffic here is horrendous. Wiki says the population of Jogja is 800,000, but our tour guide pegged it at 3 million, which I believe. The city is large and the influx of holiday visitors has brought gridlock in many places. 10-15 minute waits sometimes at lighted intersections. I would have selected another place to holiday if I had known.

Kezuma dining

Anyway, Kesuma (Gang Sartono n°827, Mantrijeron 3; Tel : +62 274 824 50 27) is located on a back street south, or east, of the Kraton (sultan’s palace), where several other restaurants also were located, including the Mediterreanea, which looked promising. Kesuma is small, seating maybe 20, and has the feel of a French country home, with Javanese influence. The owner and chef is a woman (Lilies) and her husband, a Frenchman, was waiting tables to help out during the holiday.

Unfortunately, they were sold out of seafood, which looked like their best dishes. “We only use fresh seafood,” our French waiter told us, “and we were not expecting much business because last week was slow.” We opted for a Javanese chicken dish for me and a Sop Udang, a crab-based soup. I added a large bottle of Bintang and Via had a juice.

From their menu: Sup Udang – Indonesian style of Tom Yam with prawns and raw tomatoes. Ayam Sauce Areh – whole leg or thigh of chicken in sauce based of areh – dried coconut milk with salam leaves and brown sugar, stirring until thickened. Typical flavor of sweet traditional Javanese cooking.

The green palm leaf cone contains rice

The green palm leaf cone contains rice

The food was delicious and presented nicely. My meal was Rp 60,000 ($5) and Via’s soup was Rp 40,000 ($3.50). The total, with the bear, came to $17 – and this was a first-rate restaurant, not a streetside warung. Definitely worth trying if you visit Jogja.

The trip back to the hotel took at least 30 minutes, with numerous traffic tie-ups – at 10:30 pm!!!

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About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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